There is no greater exhortation, nor any lasting encouragement or sufficient growth in Christ other than being assured of eternal life in God; and that we are now vicariously with Christ in heaven through the union of the Holy Spirit in us—awaiting His return (Tit 2:13; Col 1:7; 3:4; 1Th 2:19; 3:13; 5:23; 2Th 2:I, 8; 2Ti 4:1, 8; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 1:7; 2Pe 1:16; 1Jn 2:28; 3:2; Rev 1:7).
Though the Lord Jesus merely mentioned about His “Church” or “Body” (Mat 16:18), it was through Paul whom He chose to first reveal “the fellowship of the mystery” (Eph 3:9), or mystery of the fellowship; which fellowship is the union of the Father, Son and Spirit with all reborn in the Lord Jesus (Eph 5:32). Thus Paul is said to “espouse” all believers in Christ unto Him, being the revelator of it by God. This article reminds us that as we are “about the Father’s business” in service and our lifestyle (“walk”), it’s all toward progressively “drawing neigh” in personal fellowship with our Father, through the Life of Christ in us (Col 3:4)—by the power and presence of Their Holy Spirit who is in us, I believe—“forever” (Jhn 14:16; Rev 22:17).
He and We are Risen
I am afraid that when we speak of being here for Christ it is often the thought of our service or conduct that is prominent, and therefore it is well to be reminded that there is something over which the Lord Jesus is more concerned than He is over our conduct and our service. It is that “garden closed,” that “spring shut up”, that “fountain sealed,” from all others but Himself are excluded—the hidden spring of those affections which alone satisfy His heart, or render conduct and service acceptable to Him.
No doubt there are many believers who have not yet reached the Lord Jesus (not yet matured in this way—NC), simply because they have not had a Paul to “espouse” them to that “one husband” (2Co 11:2). They have not “heard” of His glorious victory, or of His new place as the Risen One (have yet to adequately understand the impact of His resurrection within believers—NC); they are struggling on in Egypt’s darkness and bondage; their lives are being wasted in worldly thoughts and upon worldly things, and in many cases they do not know but that they are doing God’s service—going in for politics, peace movements, etc. They are trying to improve Egypt (those who choose unbelief—NC), instead of seeing that the whole scene is under the Enemy’s influence (2Co 4:4) and the judgement of God.
If believers realized that the whole system of the world is under the judgement of God, they would be heartily glad to be clear of it all. But how few there are to proclaim that the world (unbelievers, which is the majority of mankind—NC) is a judged thing before God, and that the Lord Jesus and all the blessings of Christianity can only be found on the ground of resurrection and ascension. How few there are in Christendom today who are really seeking to bring souls to a Risen Lord—to espouse them to one Husband.
You know as a matter of fact that to be a good citizen, and to take part in everything that is supposed to tend to the improvement of the world, is looked upon by many even evangelical believers at the present day as part of Christianity; and all the great religious bodies are more or less occupied in seeking to improve their position and enlarge their influence in the world (of course not all but many—NC).
We cannot be too careful as to the influences which we allow to act upon us. We are affected by all that we hear, see and read, unconsciously it may be. The damage is done before we know it; like Ephraim, we have grey hairs and know it not (Hosea 7:9). I do not think that you can put yourself under the influence of the ministry which is generally found amongst evangelical Christians, either by hearing or reading it, without suffering loss to your soul (only concerning growth, but not your salvation—NC). You will find your heart turned back to things here—perhaps religious things—and correspondingly brought away from the Lord Jesus in glory (e.g. thoughts distracted away from heavenly things—NC). True affection for Him is blighted thereby, for He can only be known personally in glory, as One utterly rejected by man.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her” (Hos 2:14). If our affections are true to the Lord Jesus, they will make this world a wilderness to us; but if our affections do not make it a wilderness, His government will, He loves us too much to allow our heart to nestle here; and He makes us conscious that it is a wilderness so that He may have opportunity in our loneliness and our sorrow to speak to our hearts. The Voice that could not be heard in the din and bustle, and amid the laughter of the city, can be heard in the silence and solitude of the wilderness. Have you never had a wilderness interview with the Lover of your soul?
—Charles Andrew Coats (1862-1945)
MJS online devotional excerpt for November 10
“The knowledge of doctrine, essential as it is, gives no power. One might be very well up on the doctrine of deliverance, and know absolutely nothing of its practical reality. It is as our hearts are under the sway of that grace which is ministered to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, and as we are knit to Him in affection, that we touch and taste a new life, and are severed in heart from all that constituted the life of our old man. Thus the body of sin is annulled for our hearts, and we do not henceforth serve sin.” -C.A.C.http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/